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Camfed-Mastercard Foundation Scholar wins second Pollination Project Grant

By Camfed Ghana

 

Introduction

 

For the second time, Dorcas Apoore, the Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Camfed Ghana, who through her development initiatives is empowering women in communities in the three northern regions of Ghana, has won The Pollination Project Impact Grant for 2017-2018. Dorcas’ grant award demonstrates the widely-held view that given the resources and opportunities, girls and young women have the capability to break the glass ceiling and achieve their fullest potential.

 

Leadership impact of the Scholars Program

Dorcas is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar and a final year student at the University for Development Studies pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree programme in Development Planning. She was in 2014 awarded a comprehensive scholarship under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, a 10-year partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and Camfed Ghana that provides comprehensive support to academically-gifted girls and young women in the rural communities within Camfed’s operational areas.

 

The overarching goal for providing opportunities for young women such as Dorcas to access secondary and tertiary education is to raise social, political and business leaders for the African continent. It is interesting to note that even before Dorcas completes her degree programme at the university, she is already demonstrating the leadership impact of the Scholars Program through the exemplary work of the NGO she founded.

 

Service leadership - the founding of ASIGE

Dorcas’ drive and passion to be an agent of change in her community and to empower women in her community to become agents of change inspired her to start Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls’ Education (ASIGE) after she had participated in the Change Makers Congress, one of the enrichment programmes for Mastercard Foundation Scholars in Ghana. “I started ASIGE because of a desire to demonstrate the core values of the Scholars Program - service leadership and give-back- as well as a passion to empower the women in the communities”, Dorcas states.

 

ASIGE’s vision is to break the cycle of poverty through sustainable livelihood empowerment initiatives for women and young people in the Upper East Region of Ghana. For the past four years, ASIGE has operated in the Bolgatanga Municipality, Bongo and Kassena Nankana West districts where the organisation has trained women to acquire skills in turning waste materials into plastic bags as well as in basket weaving. Dorcas has been able to increase the number of women she works with from an initial 30 to 213. ASIGE has also encouraged and supported 68 women to open savings accounts with Access Bank, through a partnership between the two organisations. Dorcas has also begun an initiative to raise funds for the construction of a weaving centre, having already secured the land for the project.

 

Through her initiatives, Dorcas has been able to support nine teenage mothers to go back to school out of which three have completed senior high school. To ensure that girls attend and remain in school, ASIGE, with support from a USA partner, has received washable sanitary pads which have been distributed to a number of junior and senior high schools. ASIGE has also offered entrepreneurial, business advisory and mentoring support to young women in the districts of operation. These customized support initiatives, tailored to suit the local context, have so far reached more than a thousand young women. Dorcas intends to expand the scope of her initiatives by setting up a shea butter extraction and processing centre to equip and empower women to become economically independent.

 

ASIGE WinsThe Pollination Project Impact Grant

With the lack of adequate funding serving as the major obstacle to the realisation of her vision, Dorcas took the bold step to scout for funding opportunities. She applied to The Pollination Project for support and after a competitive application and evaluation process, ASIGE was in February 2017 awarded a grant of US$1000 to support its work. The grant was disbursed in two tranches of US$500 upon satisfactory programme delivery, demonstration of results, and submission of required project reports.

 

With the first grant well-accounted for and results demonstrated, ASIGE applied for a second grant from The Pollination Project. Out of 550 applications received, ASIGE’s application was among the 71 projects that will receive funding this year. ASIGE will receive a grant of $3,000 to support the next phase of the project’s growth and the funds will be paid in a single instalment. A message from The Pollination Project states, “We want you to know that this impact grant is a huge vote of confidence from us. We are proud to be able to play a role in supporting what you do”. Dorcas intends to invest the new grant into the project by acquiring raw materials and expanding the scope of activities to include many more women.

 

The social and development initiatives of many young women all over the world give credence to the popular notion that when you educate and empower a girl, everything changes. The modest but life-changing work initiated by Dorcas through ASIGE underscores the far-reaching impacts that can be made through programs such as the Scholars Program designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of girls and young women. The future is bright when young women are positioned to give-back as Dorcas has demonstrated.

                      
                      Some beneficiary women weaving baskets